Who says you have to play by the rules when decorating a heritage home? Certainly not the undaunted owners of this 1880s house in Toronto’s Little Italy neighborhood. Genevieve Makinson, a former florist, and her husband, James Aitken, along with their children, Pete and Anastasia, have let instinct guide their design choices, and they haven’t regretted it yet. “For me it’s about letting go of fear,” she says. See inside the space where designer wallpapers provide eye-catching backdrops for unique artworks, and iconic accessories sit atop vintage furniture.
Though homeowners Genevieve and James each brought beloved pieces when they moved into this house, they bought the living room furnishings together, as a couple — including Genevieve’s now favorite green Gubi Beetle chair.
Diverse prints and pieces reflect Genevieve’s willingness to experiment and embrace spontaneity.
The iconic Eero Saarinen dining table complements the vintage Venetian bar James purchased while living in England.
“I love the blond wood and the history of the piece,” says Genevieve. “It feels so perfect in that nook.”
Genevieve credits George Unger of Kobi’s Cabinets and Lesley Macmillan of Trianon Design for the kitchen design. “The two of them are absolute magicians when it comes to space planning.”
Genevieve and her family spend most of their time in the newly renovated kitchen. “We love to cook and eat, so we gather and entertain here often,” she says.
The bronze shelves in the kitchen are designed to take on a patina over time. “I wanted some gold without being gaudy, so Lesley helped design the floating shelves to hold all my cookbooks and accessories,” says Genevieve.
The artwork suits the mood Genevieve envisioned for the kitchen. “I sent pictures of the wall to a friend who is the director of the Alison Milne Gallery, and said I needed something for that space. The next day she came over with this piece, and I fell in love.”
With the push of a button, an appliance caddy rises out of the countertop — a swish yet practical feature for a busy family.
The powder room’s current wallpaper is the fourth or fifth variation since the family moved in. “If you look closely, the pattern resembles skeletons, which I hadn’t realized before putting it up!” says Genevieve. The framed maps are part of James’ collection. “It’s fun to be reminded of where we were when we bought them,” she says.
The principal bedroom’s neutral palette makes the most of texture and pattern. “We started with that gorgeous wallpaper,” says Genevieve. Dark hardwood floors are the perfect backdrop for her treasured Kiska linens.
Pale, watery hues and a frameless glass shower door contribute to the airy feeling in the narrow guest bathroom. The tall window allows light to fill the space, making the room feel larger than it really is.
The custom canopy bed does double duty for Pete as both a fort and a cozy spot for story time. “We went with blue because James loves the color — even though most of the time I buck it,” says Genevieve. The psychedelic drapes come from the couple’s shared love of tie-dye.
“The Christian Lacroix pink ‘insect’ wallpaper in Anastasia’s room is really special,” says Genevieve. “I’m absolutely in love with it, and she is, too!”
Author: Lauren Flanagan
House & Home October 2017
Kitchen and bathroom design, Lesley Macmillan, Trianon Design.